Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Popular Edition Of The Apocryphal Acts Of The Apostles

AP: A few years ago the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos in Madrid decided to publish in their BAC Selecciones series an affordable edition of the texts of the apocryphal Acts of the Apostles. The first volume contains a brief general introduction, a limited bibliography, and the Castilian text of the Acts of Andrew, John, Peter, Paul, and Thomas. The original language text and the voluminous indexes are not reproduced. The notes have been reduced to the most important.

The basis of the popular edition is the three-volume edition, perhaps not as widely known by our English-speaking audience as it is by the readership of my personal blog, which came to light in the years 2005, 2007, and 2012. This scientific publication presents a critical edition of the original texts in Latin and Greek (or a translation of Syriac and Coptic fragments where the original is missing), with abundant footnotes and indexes (almost 700 pages of approximately 2,800 total).

The bibliographic information is as follows: Antonio PiƱero and Gonzalo del Cerro (eds.). Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (1). Madrid: BAC, 2013. ISBN 978-84-220-1637-3. 417 pp. It is available here.

Here's some of the information that is found on the inside and outside back cover:
"The Library of Christian Authors has selected from among the approximately one thousand six hundred titles that make up its editorial edition, those that have the character of a special book. These works, grouped in the series 'Selections,' are published in a simple and economic format, so that the richness of the Christian tradition, collected in the BAC, are available to all. (Although deprived of the scholarly apparatus ...) these works unfold to the reader all the virtualities that emanate directly from them, assuring the reader that the book he holds in his hands is the end result of a long process of study, editing, and writing."
"The apocryphal Acts collected in this volume are the oldest and most inspiring of a fruitful stream of later works. These 'Acts' were produced in an era of the history of the Church that was very important for the formation of the Christian conscience. Through their pages, the illusions, hobbies, and worries of Christian communities are seen as moving between hope and the fear of mistaking the right way to achieve it. The optimism of the Christian plan of salvation clashed with the rigorous attitudes of the moment, and they put in the Christian hearts a spark of mistrust."
I can add that these "Acts" are the first Christian novels. They are literature of entertainment certainly, but not just that: Between trips, loves despised, intrigues, and persecutions suffered by the protagonists are found mixed discourses, homilies, dialogues on subjects of religion, explanations of Doctrines. In many cases such religious material passed to the common stock of orthodoxy; but in others, not a few, that did not happen. For example, the great amount of gnostic material contained in some of these Acts––those of John and Thomas perhaps more than the rest––were not adopted as orthodox.

Like the apocryphal Gospels, there is news of the tradition that is only preserved in the "Acts" (there are many famous, but perhaps the best known is the Quo vadis of the Acts of Peter). In any case, these discourses present a pluriform, varied, and very curious Christianity. Look no further, for example, than the Acts of Paul and Tecla––the basis, historical or not, for all that is known/believed about this very famous saint––whose Christianity is different from that which comes from authentic letters of Paul.

It's our hope that this popular edition contributes to the knowledge of this literature and that people are encouraged to read it, because it is not boring at all. Far from it!

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